Following a gluten-free diet has become one of the most popular nutrition fads ever.
In fact, the gluten-free industry has gone from almost nothing a decade ago, to an industry that was worth over half a billion dollars by 2012, as mentioned in a National Post article written by Joseph Brean. Although many people think that banning gluten from their diets will help them lose weight, cure their digestive issues or cure their Diabetes, the gluten-free diet is not a magical cure-all.
People go gluten-free for many reasons including digestive issues, depression, fatigue and skin problems but the number one reason why people choose to ditch gluten is to lose weight, which, for the record, makes no sense to me at all. The demand for gluten-free food options has sky-rocketed, which has spurred the food industry to capitalize in a huge way. What once was a teeny section of the organic aisle in the grocery store is now entire aisles of gluten-free crackers, breads, cereals, cookies and granola bars.
Most gluten-free processed foods lack fibre, vitamins and minerals and are packed full of calories. They, in many cases are worse for you than gluten-containing processed foods. Thankfully, as pointed out in the same National Post article, people are catching on and the gluten-free fad is starting to fade.
Most people who choose to follow a gluten-free diet have not been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or a true gluten-intolerance. What's more, is that most of these people—who swear by their gluten-free diet—do not have the slightest idea of what gluten is...
The truth is, gluten is a protein composite made up of gliadin and glutenin. These two proteins give bread it's elasticity and chewy, wonderful texture. Basically, gluten is one of the reasons why enjoying a freshly baked piece of bread is so heavenly (in moderation of course). Along with wheat products such as bread and pasta, gluten is also found in barley and rye as well as gluten-contaminated oats. Gluten damages the inner lining of the small intestine in people with Celiac Disease, making it difficult to digest food. This can lead to many health problems including malnutrition, unhealthy weight loss, iron deficiency anemia and fatigue.
If you suspect that you have Celiac Disease or a gluten-intolerance, do yourself a favour and get your doctor to send you for the proper screening tests. If your tests come back negative, but you continue to experience uncomfortable symptoms, see a Registered Dietitian who can provide you with guidance to ease your digestive symptoms (because there are many reasons why you may be experiencing stomach issues), or ask your doctor for further guidance.
On the other hand, if you're wanting to lose weight, know that a gluten-free diet is not the answer. In fact, it can lead to weight gain if you're simply switching from gluten-containing grain products to gluten-free grain products. The only reason that someone may lose weight on a gluten-free diet is due to cutting back on processed foods in general.
You may also like to check out My Top 10 Dietitian-Approved, Easy and Yummy Recipes as well as Why I'm Not a Fan Of Cleanses and Detoxes and maybe even How To Ditch Diets And Tune Into Your Body To Lose Weight
I also provide free nutrition resources and family nutrition tips on my Facebook page daily, do feel free to stop by.